Marcia Gay Harden
Magic in the Moonlight (PG-13)
Comedy 98 July 25, 2014
Magic in the Moonlight's mystery is pedestrian and predictable, and its lovers -- Colin Firth and Emma Stone -- fall for one another for no reason other than they happen to be the leads in a Woody Allen movie. Firth plays Stanley, a famous but secretive stage magician, who thinks he's the only person alive notice that superstition is bunk and that there might not be a God. A magician friend (Simon McBurney) invites him to the home of some jillionaires to smoke out a comely medium (twinkly Stone) who seems to display miraculous gifts in séances -- and who is poised to marry the handsome heir to the fortune, despite being a Midwesterner with no pedigree. Can rational Stanley expose what must be a very clever fraud -- and preserve the class order?
Everyone declaims the film's meager themes, as if we're watching the actors' what's-my-motivation? prep work rather than their final performances. Even Stone and Firth speaking Allen's lumpish dialogue is something like getting down a mouthful of oatmeal.